Birrarung Wilam: A Story from Aboriginal Australia

Candlewick. Aug. 2020. 40p. Tr $17.99. ISBN 9781536209426.
PreS-Gr 2–In a look at the language of the Indigenous people of Australia, “Birrarung” is the Woiwurrung word for the Yarra River, which is near the city of Melbourne, and “Wilam” is the Woiwurrung word for “home.” Throughout the text, Woiwurrung words are used for animals and other elements of the natural world: possum, kangaroo, crow, wombat, rain, and sun. As the river rambles, the story does too. Along the way, it shows how each animal is key to the river ecosystem—and how the river is critical to their survival. Individual compositions lack a sense of cohesion, but the color palette of the illustrations progresses nicely from nighttime to sunrise to sunset. Some spreads use a pleasing combination of patterns to show the harmonious flow of water, land, and air.
VERDICT A necessary purchase, and co-written by a senior Aboriginal elder and the Yarra riverkeeper, this is one small step toward depicting a culture that is likely underrepresented in most collections.

Be the first reader to comment.

Comment Policy:
  • Be respectful, and do not attack the author, people mentioned in the article, or other commenters. Take on the idea, not the messenger.
  • Don't use obscene, profane, or vulgar language.
  • Stay on point. Comments that stray from the topic at hand may be deleted.
  • Comments may be republished in print, online, or other forms of media.
  • If you see something objectionable, please let us know. Once a comment has been flagged, a staff member will investigate.



We are currently offering this content for free. Sign up now to activate your personal profile, where you can save articles for future viewing